The Charlie Bravo Story

Stayin Aleve

“Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.” –

Sunday morning at the Casa, and all the kids are piled up on the bed with their Dad. Due to the knee situation, I’ve been keeping Chloe at bay, as her her antics are unpredictable and the slightest touch from even the most well-intentioned but rambunctious dog can be unbearable. But this morning the pain is a bit more manageable, so here she is, like she’s been here her whole life.

The last couple of weeks has caused me to have to eat the last eight years worth of posts unsalted. Although I still believe in the message, it’s embarassing to see how quickly that all it takes is a bit of adversity to cause all of the pontificating about hope and crates to just become ashes in my mouth.

We’re told repeatedly, “Just hang on, just a while longer”; Charlie herself uses those exact words in the first chapter of her book, but when we’re in the battle, the eternal question is “how?”. I remember back in 2014 BC (before Charlie) when I was laying in the Ouachita mountains with a ruptured colon as a result of getting off of a dual sport motorcycle when I should have stayed on. As Wolf Pen Gap is notorious for it’s lack of cell phone coverage, Zach had to leave me laying as he rode west towards the tiny town of Mena in search of help. While the chance of any medical attention that he might find being capable of handling internal injuries made that action in itself seemed futile, waddaya gonna do except what you can do?

I’ll never forget the feeling of seeing Zach’s tailight bouncing off and eventually disappearing into the woods. Especially surreal was that the distinctive thump of his Suzuki DR650 could still be heard for some time after any sight had vanished. But then all was quiet; the die was cast. He had his job to do, to find help help, and I had my job to do, to stay alive.

But how do you “stay alive?”, regardless of what the Bee Gees might suggest? It was obvious that I couldn’t reach inside my abdomen and pinch a tourniquet on my ruptured gut; besides, I’m a bit squeamish about fumbling around in the contents of my own colon. So, I had no say in the matter; all I could do was wait.

Obviously, Zach ended up finding help, a park ranger some eight miles away. A helicopter was called in and I was whisked away for a blind date with a colostomy bag, but that’s a story for another day.

It was a couple of months later when we found Charlie on the side of the road. As Zach and I passed her crate, I couldn’t help but remember how I felt back when I had no choice but to watch Zach’s tailight vanishing in the distance; we had to go back. And it’s been a wild ride ever since.

But what had she been doing inside that crate as we were unknowingly heading her way? Waiting. Now that I know just how just how headstrong she is, I realize that just waiting was probably the most difficult task that could have been required of her; boredom, claustrophobia, feelings of inadequacy exacerbating the torment of the crate. That’s a pain of a different kind, a pain that can make you frantic enough to make it even harder to wait.

But wait she did, and here we are. And by “we”, I mean all of us; some being on a part of their journey where forging ahead is on the agenda, others being required to hope and wait for “what’s next”.

And in my experience, “what’s next” is always better, regardless of how I’m feeling at the time…

We be of one blood, ye and I.

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